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The Test Essay, Research Paper

My eyelids drooped as I poured yet another cup of coffee, so that I might stay awake long enough to study the last thousand pages or so in my notebook. Maybe it was just too much caffeine, but it seemed to me that the coffee machine was laughing at me, as it seemed to say ?you?re hopeless, go to bed.? I had been studying for so long now that the few things I did know for certain at the beginning were now beginning to baffle me. Facts and figures jumbled together in one huge pile in my mind, useless dates and numbers that meant absolutely nothing to me in my exhausted state.

?Why don?t you go to bed now, honey?? my mother asked kindly when she found me studying in the dim light in the living room. ?It?s really late, and you have to get up early.?

I groaned. Thanks for reminding me! a little voice screamed inside my head. Only four more hours and I?d have to get up for school, and here I was, absolutely clueless despite my efforts of cramming.

?No, not yet,? I pleaded. ?I?ll go to bed soon, I promise. I just want to go over this last little section.?

Mom sighed, but nodded, flicking on another lamp for me on her way back to bed. ?You?re going to ruin your eyes studying in the dark,? I heard her mumble as she left the room.

Ruin my eyes? As though that was all I had to worry about! After I wrote my exam tomorrow, my life was going to be ruined! My chances of getting accepted into a decent college were gone out the window. I?d never get a decent job, and there was not a chance that I?d ever get married or have children. Who wanted to marry a failure? Visions of myself in thirty years, alone and impoverished, popped into my head. I could already see myself, sitting in my tiny one room apartment, spooning Kraft dinner out of a worn pot. My clothes were in tatters, and my only companion was a skinny stray cat I?d sneaked into the apartment. My phone would never ring, and there?d never be any letters for me in the mail. My family would disown me, my friends would forget me . . . yes, I decided, my life was most certainly ruined.

Although I tried most diligently to stay awake, my efforts were in vain. At quarter after five, I drifted into dreamland. I dreamt that I was doing my exam, and I wasn?t worried at all. Then the teacher handed me the paper, and when I turned it over, there was all this mumble jumble there that I?d never seen before. I began to panic, and the teacher just stood there laughing at me, pointing her finger and screaming ?you?ll never get into college! You?ll never amount to anything!?

To say that I was slightly stressed when I awoke at ten after seven would be a definite understatement. I was petrified, as I scrambled around grabbing clothes and books. Not only had I fallen asleep without studying half of the last chapter, I had overslept. My shower went cold, my hairdryer broke, there was no time for breakfast, and I couldn?t find my left shoe. Things were definitely not looking up.

I got to school just as the homeroom bell was ringing. I slid into my seat the very second my teacher began role-call, out of breath and exhausted. With less than two hours of sleep behind me, I was a physical and emotional wreck. Then, to my utter delight (not!), I found out that the test was first class.

By the time we?d been given the tests, and were waiting to be told to begin, I was pretty calm. I had decided at this point that since I was doomed to failure anyhow, I didn?t have to worry about passing the test. I didn?t have a prayer of passing, so why try?

To my surprise, many of the questions on the exam looked oddly familiar to me. It seemed as though I had heard of some of it before . . . somewhere. I began to write, not stopping until the bell rang, and the teacher demanded that we hand the papers in. I was still entirely certain that I?d flunked, but the stress I?d been feeling for days had lightened dramatically. I felt lighthearted and cheerful, as though a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders.

The rest of the day passed in a daze. I almost fell asleep in history class, botched my project in home ec., and accidentally confessed that I was very ?lazy? instead of ?tired? in Spanish class. Aside from these minor mishaps, the day was uneventful, and when I got home that evening, I ate, did some books, and then went for a nap. I fell instantly into a deep and restful sleep.

When I awoke, I was surprised to see that it was almost six thirty the next morning. Starved, I made breakfast. Taking my time in the shower and with my hair and clothes, I still had plenty of time to organize my books and walk to school. I felt invigorated.

In the middle of homeroom, a stern-faced teacher announced that he?d finished correcting our exams. My heart began to race, and my palms began to sweat as I sat anxiously awaiting my failing grade. I began to recite in my head what I?d say to my parents. Mom, Dad, I know that you?re going to be disappointed with me but-

?Good job, young lady,? I heard a voice say, as my exam was handed to me. I was shocked. Surely he?d mistaken me for someone else! I was getting ready to hand the paper back to him when I saw my messy signature at the top of the page. Right next to my grade. A! I sat there, clutching the papers tightly in my hand, a bewildered expression on my face.

?Overall, I was very impressed with the marks,? the teacher was saying to the class. ?Although some of you went down since the last test . . . ? His voice droned on, and I found it impossible to listen to him as I tried to figure out how I?d gotten an A. Maybe he?d been too tired last night to read my exam? Maybe-

Suddenly, something he said brought me back to reality. ?Tomorrow, we?ll be having a quiz on the next three sections . . .?

The paper in my hand was forgotten as panic seized me. A quiz!?! Tomorrow!?! I?d never have time to study . . . what was I going to do!?!

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